New OCA head is SWU graduate
This past March, Chris Bateman began work as head of school at Oconee Christian Academy, a Christian school in Seneca that provides a biblical worldview-based education for grades K-12.
A 1995 Southern Wesleyan University Religion graduate, Bateman spent his first six years after college pastoring various churches in his native North Carolina. Then one day, some friends shared an idea with Bateman.
“We had some friends who were a part of a church where we were serving in North Carolina,” Bateman said. “They were getting ready to move back to their hometown in Georgia and my wife and I were looking for the next thing and they said ‘have you ever thought about a Christian School?’”
Bateman replied that he hadn’t thought about going into education, though his wife Chanda was a teacher and his father served as a public school teacher and administrator in Eden, N.C. After the Batemans prayed for direction, they traveled to Dalton, Ga., to interview for a job at Christian Heritage School.
“They asked me to come for an interview, so we drove seven and a half hours to Dalton from our little town of Eden. While they interviewed me, he said ‘your wife’s a teacher, do you think she’s looking for a job?’ I said ‘I don’t know. She’s out on the playground with our two-year-old daughter.’ They got her off the playground, interviewed her and hired both of us at the same time. We had classrooms side by side,” Bateman said.
After serving Christian Heritage School 14 years during a time of significant growth, Bateman accepted a position as head of school for Cathedral Academy in North Charleston. During his years at Cathedral, the school saw increased enrollment, balanced its budget, and academic rigor and curriculum were improved.
In addition to serving as a Christian school administrator, Bateman has also been a teacher, chaplain, alumni director, special events coordinator and athletic director at Christian Heritage School in Dalton, Ga.
Bateman sees the role of Oconee Christian Academy as being part of a partnership between home, church and school.
“A lot of people think that when they send their kids to a Christian school that they are sheltering them. It’s not a shelter. We’re building a foundation in their life so that they can be able to go out into a world with a biblical worldview and be able to withstand the attacks that every one of them is going to face,” he said, adding that his school wants to support what Christian parents are doing in the home. “We’ve got a whole gamut of denominations, but we’ve come together to agree that a biblical foundation is needed in children’s lives.”
This year, Oconee Christian Academy is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
Bateman is grateful to Southern Wesleyan in preparing him for leadership, providing him a solid foundation with a Christian worldview.
“I had professors who poured that into my life on a daily basis, people I grew to trust and admire. I knew that they were not only teaching but they were giving advice. It helped produce who I am today,” he said, adding that he learned a lot from his professors, including Dr. Bob Black, now retired, and Dr. Brad Fipps. Friendships he developed in his college days have endured, including one with Darren Potter, his roommate during college, accountability partner and best friend.
“This is like coming home to us because of my connections with SWU and my wife Chanda is from Clemson,” Bateman said. They have three children: a 20-year-old daughter, a 16-year-old-son and a five-year-old son.
Southern Wesleyan University is a Christ-centered, student-focused, faith-filled community that offers inventive learning experiences. The university endeavors to prepare its students to be dedicated scholars and servant-leaders who impact the world for Christ. At the same time, it’s Southern Wesleyan’s desire to practice contagious generosity within the surrounding community. For details about degree programs, go online to swu.edu.